People with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may find it difficult to stay focused throughout the day when asked to complete tedious or repetitive tasks. ADHD can cause individuals to experience occupational and social issues due to their inability to focus.
By altering brain chemistry, stimulant medications allow for detailed focus throughout the day. Most ADHD medications are considered safe and well-tolerated when used with a doctor’s prescription. However, the misuse of many ADHD medications can, unfortunately, also cause the brain to release pleasure chemicals, resulting in drug dependence and addiction.
Vyvanse and Adderall, two commonly prescribed ADHD medications, have been linked to drug abuse. The ability to recognize drug abuse and intervene when something goes wrong can be enhanced by understanding how these drugs are similar and different from each other.
What Is Vyvanse?
The drug lisdexamfetamine is the active ingredient present in the prescription brand medication Vyvanse. Stimulants increase activity in the brain and nervous system, which means they work in the brain and nervous system. The drug’s main purpose is to treat ADHD. It is approved for use by people who are at least 6 years old. In addition to treating compulsive overeating, Vyvanse may also be used to treat behavioral disorders like binge eating disorder.
Vyvanse is useful for people with ADHD because it is able to increase focus, alertness, and participation in tasks that may otherwise be very challenging. The brain’s dopamine levels are increased by stimulants such as Vyvanse. Attention problems may be caused by low dopamine levels.
Motivation and reward are linked to dopamine. Your focus on a task is encouraged by the release of dopamine as you work through it. Due to low levels of dopamine, the brains of people with ADHD look for other sources of the chemical. As a result, ADHD symptoms such as distractibility increase. Dopamine levels can be corrected with stimulant medications.
Vyvanse’s side effects are similar to those associated with other stimulants, including low appetite, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, restlessness, irritability, and nausea. Additionally, mania, heart complications, and psychosis can occur as less common but more serious side effects. When a person has other heart problems, he or she may experience a heart attack. As a result of high-dose misuse, other serious side effects, such as psychosis, are more likely to occur.
Vyvanse is a controlled substance under federal law. This substance is classified as Schedule II, which means it has accepted medical uses but is also likely to be abused. Despite being less potent than cocaine, Vyvanse produces a stimulating high similar to cocaine. Performance and cognitive enhancement are also possible with Vyvanse and other ADHD medications.
During long study sessions or to boost test scores, stimulants may be used on college campuses to increase focus and alertness. You are at risk of experiencing dangerous side effects and consequences if you misuse and abuse Vyvanse, including dependence and addiction.
What Is Adderall?
Amphetamine is the active ingredient in Adderall, a brand-name prescription medication. Dopamine and norepinephrine levels are increased by this central nervous system stimulant. A stimulant drug called dextroamphetamine is also contained in Adderall. In 1996, the FDA approved it for the first time. In 2019, Adderall was the 24th most popular drug in the United States, with more than 24 million prescriptions sold.
In addition to treating ADHD, Adderall can also cause side effects, such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. Misuse and abuse are typically responsible for these symptoms. It is possible to experience uncomfortable side effects and addiction if you use the drug without a prescription or beyond what has been prescribed.
Some people misuse Adderall for cognitive enhancement, but it can also be used as a recreational stimulant. College students may use Adderall to improve their wakefulness and focus during long study sessions. There is no evidence that the drug can improve cognitive function in people without ADHD, although it can keep you awake—similar to caffeine.
Chemical Makeup Differences
The stimulant medications Vyvanse and Adderall are both classified as stimulants. In both cases, the brain is stimulated in a different way in order to boost awareness.
There is an amphetamine salt found in Adderall that directly affects brain cells. A person who takes Adderall will immediately feel the effects of the drug on their brain without the need for an intermediary step. The substance lisdexamfetamine in Vyvanse, on the other hand, must be converted into an amphetamine before brain cells can use it.
Because of this intermediate step, Vyvanse takes slightly longer to work on brain cells. Therefore, people who take Vyvanse may not feel a spike in pleasure within their brains when they take the drug. The brain cells respond to Vyvanse similarly to Adderall once it is converted.
Differences in Vyvanse and Adderall Doses
The body tends to metabolize Adderall rapidly, so people who take the drug to control ADHD symptoms must take it multiple times per day. It can cause a seesaw effect on brain chemicals, according to the American Council on Science and Health. When the drug is taken, focus issues and ADHD symptoms decrease, and when the drug wears off, symptoms may return. The result can be intense highs and lows.
In contrast, Vyvanse stays active within the body for a long time, allowing for better control with fewer highs and lows. When taking Vyvanse, people may feel the drug’s impact throughout the day without experiencing major episodes of euphoria or depression.
Vyvanse has proven to be effective in ADHD treatment. The manufacturer of the drug submitted paperwork to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) citing a study in which children with ADHD received the drug once daily in the morning for four weeks or a placebo. There was a significant improvement in ADHD symptoms among those receiving the medication, and the effects lasted throughout the day.
People with ADHD who take Vyvanse can perform tasks that were unattainable before therapy because of its ability to alter brain chemistry. The results of these studies demonstrate that even young people can be treated with just one dose of medication.
Someone with ADHD may have difficulty remembering to take medications on a strict schedule, so this once-a-day dosage can be ideal. Medication calendars are not needed with once-per-day dosing. It may also be helpful from the perspective of addiction since Vyvanse may be harder to abuse because of its mechanism of action.
Vyvanse vs. Adderall: Addiction Potential
Research studies examine how “likable” a drug is to determine its addictive potential. A study like this involves giving the drug to individuals who have never taken it before and asking them how they feel after taking it. When both drugs are taken at the same dose level, Vyvanse has lower drug-liking effects than amphetamines, according to research cited by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Perhaps Vyvanse’s conversion in the body makes it less appealing or rewarding to abuse, or perhaps another chemical reaction takes place that lowers the likability score. Even so, studies like this indicate that Vyvanse is less addictive than Adderall.
The Adderall abuse rate is on the rise. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that between 2006 and 2011, adults ages 18 to 25 abused Adderall without a prescription by 67%. Within this time, emergency room visits related to this abuse increased by 156%.
According to a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, different types of ADHD medications are abused at different rates. According to the study, Adderall was abused at a rate of 0.62, whereas Vyvanse was abused at a rate of 0.12. It appears that Vyvanse is less abused than Adderall, and that may indicate some recovery from stimulant abuse.